Automation has brought a lot of value to industries across the United States in recent years. When used correctly, it can increase output, and allow you to bring customers exactly what they want. Is automation possible in procurement and supply chain management, and can you get better value when you automate here?
This article will explore how automation can potentially help out in procurement and supply chain jobs. The answers may surprise you.
But first, let’s look into what’s possible.
Will Automation Reduce the Human Workforce?
The first thing you’ll want to know is, will automation force humans out of a job? It’s easy to think that sophisticated automation tech can replace a human, and so you could staff an entire warehouse with machinery. In practice though, that’s not possible.
In any job there are going to be roles for humans, even with widespread automation. The roles they take on will just change. You can use an automated system for procurement, but before you can do that, you need people to manage the data that’s fed into automation, as it can only work with what it’s given.
You’ll have data that comes out of the process too, and that will need to be analysed. Executives will need to consider the effectiveness of the supply chain and make decisions that will improve it over time. In turn, workers who handle the machinery are just as important when it comes to the supply chain’s effectiveness as time goes on.
How Automation Can Look in Procurement And Supply Chain Roles
So, automation will make some big changes in your industry, especially in the next few years. How will that change the landscape?
You’ll firstly see that many manual labor and repetitive tasks can be taken over by automation. For example, we’re seeing big companies like Amazon use robots to fetch goods in warehouses, ready to be shipped to customers. They also have robots that scan barcodes and assign incoming stock a place in the building. You’ll also see automation counting stock (to a certain extent), while workers will still be responsible for such a task, while repairing and constantly checking robots, and evaluating for plausible results.
It’s worth looking at another big company, Nike, too. They can let customers design and create their very own running shoes online, down to the materials used. Once the order is placed, an automated system checks whether the materials are in stock at a nearby factory. The shoes are made, and then they’re shipped to the customer.
There’s a huge range of different ways that automation could be used in this field. The way your company will use it will depend on you and your customers’ needs.
Gathering Big Data
This is something that has already been touched on, but it’s an important aspect of automation, thus further improving the supply line and the business as a whole. Now, when you have more data, that allows you to make more informed decisions about the next steps to take. Let’s look at Nike again. They initially rolled out the custom shoe making service, and that helped them make more decisions about how to improve it. They opened up small manufacturing facilities near their key markets and added manufacturing machines that reduced the steps in making the shoes. With more than 200 robots working in the warehouse, Nike has seen progress being made when it comes to shoe production.
Enhancing The Workforce
As you’ve seen, automation will actually enhance them. When the more routine and repetitive jobs are being handled by automation and AI, that lets staff focus their efforts elsewhere. Being freed up in this way can actually help them improve the role and therefore profits, as seen with Nike.
There’s no denying that automation will depress employment for some types of labor, but it will open up doors elsewhere. For example, with the creation of spreadsheets in the 1980’s, bookkeeping became a lot simpler, and accountants could start making forecasts and looking ahead as they weren’t dealing with rote tasks. The procurement and supply chain industry can see a similar change ahead.
Automation is already in the process of changing the supply chain, globally. With improvements already being made, there’s bound to be new innovations happening in the current years.